Photo Academy dreams of Airbnb photo courses
With the support of the St’Art fund and shareholders such as Edmée Chandon-Moët, the Brussels start-up intends to offer unique experiences to photographers in search of sensations.
Technique in the past, the photography is now accessible to all. Smartphone in hand, we can all draw the portrait of Madame, immortalize the youngest’s first steps, or even keep track of this magnificent trip to the other side of the world. It is enough to see the counters explode on Instagram to be convinced, where, every day, hundreds of millions of images are shared. Click-clack.
But to want is not for all that power. In any case, with the art and the manner. Many amateurs are well aware of this, so often decide to turn to a logical solution: Classes. It’s the niche that The Photo Academy has decided to embrace. Since 2011, the two co-founders, Maxime Favier and Raphaël Devreker have offered training to everyone. Explanation from the basics of what makes light can become the witness of the world to the basics of black and white, everything goes there, within a well-stocked catalog made up of offers from 300 photographers, both online and physical, in around forty large cities and in three languages (French, English and Dutch).
Co-founded by a UCB chemist
A major development when we know that the project started “only” as an online media around the photo, set up in 2008 by two enthusiasts, one webmaster, the other scientist at UCB. Notoriety made, “at one point, we said to ourselves thatwe wanted to teach others about photography as we would have liked to learn it», Remembers Maxime Favier.
The concept was born. He has quickly caught up with internet users, leading this doctor in pharmaceutical sciences and analytical chemistry to give up his corporate job to embark on the entrepreneurial adventure. Born ASBL, the company evolved into a SPRL, then into a SAS, to finally become an SA. Because yes, The Photo Academy was first born from the minds of two French people, who decided to put their luggage in Belgium, “the space to grow up being less saturated”. A dozen people are now working on the project in Brussels.
For the rest, at this stage, the start-up has now passed a symbolic milestone – namely the million euros in turnover – leading it to a introspection phase business model on his. With a response, after careful consideration: to consider real success, he will need change your mind. Goal ? Become a platform, on the model of what is now often the norm among the nuggets of the net: “By allowing the meeting between clients and photographers», Evokes Maxime Favier.
“We realized that people, after a certain stage, want more than technique.”
“In order to offer unique experiences, like a portrait workshop on the roof of The Hotel or a street photography at Borough Market “, the oldest food market in London. Like an Airbnb which now offers, in addition to its room rentals,” or unique activities to do together organized by hosts from around the world experiences. “Because we realized that people, after a certain stage, want more than technique“.
Backed by a high profile from Booking.com
A development that does not have not surprisingly that among the four million euros of capital do not throw away The Photograph Academy, a Party one summer registered by a former… of Airbnb, in charge of global strategy for six years, now vice-president at Booking.com. “He believes in the project,” says the co-founder. “So, when we sought to develop, he answered the call, with a desire to participate in the adventure.”
And the man is not the only support on which the Brussels start-up will be able to count in his future projects. The latter Also just closed, last week, a fundraising of some 700,000 euros from St’Art, the investment fund dedicated to cultural and creative industries in Wallonia and Brussels.. And hopes to find some 300,000 more to pass the million mark.
But money isn’t everything. For the rest, she will be able to take advantage of the respective networks of its other shareholders, including Edmée Chandon-Moët, whose great-great-grandfather affixed the “Chandon” to Moët, at the head of the family offices Family & You and Imani. Or an advisor to the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. Beautiful people? “We can only do a few things without relationships,” says the co-founder.
Surfer on the wave of influencers
Besides, this idea of network will constitute the very foundation of Picsmentor, by his little name. Indeed, the space platform for trainers to create their communities and make them grow, but also so that they offer original activities and promote them. “With a multiplier effect to the key. When a photographer with 80,000 followers joins us, the platform grows with him“, indicates Maxime Favier. It remains then for The Photo Academy to find these pearls. Others will arrive, by snowball effect.
At this stage, they are already 600 photographers to have joined the project. Enough to ensure a base, but which will have to be further developed in the future. For rest, the teams will also work to improve the interface and the proposed functionalities, after the setting up of this first version, which improved the relevance of the project, both from a technical point of view and in the interest of users and investors.
All this, while managing the coronavirus crisis head-on, which has asked to offer more videocoaching than physical courses, these being badly by the containment measures decided by the confinement. But the trainers lend themselves to the game. And take the opportunity to analyze (and criticize) the photos of their students, who have, for their part, had time to sort them out in recent weeks …